This week I am talking about Hair and Makeup Artists (HMUA). Specifically, why hair and makeup artists should consider working with equestrian photographers and pet photographers.

Frequently I think hair and makeup artists might get a little concerned about the idea of going onsite to a client in a barn. This post is designed to get you thinking about why taking this leap might be a good thing, not only for your business but also for your creativity.

For this post, I enlisted my makeup muse, Kira McCarty of Onsite Muse. I first met Kira a few years ago while attended an equine photography workshop in Florida.

Kira and her team were at the workshop doing the makeup and hair for several of the models. Over the years, Kira and I have struck up a friendship. She is the brain I pick when I am thinking about hair and makeup.

For these, and many other reasons, I thought she would be a great person to talk about why hair and makeup artists should consider equestrian photographers as potential partners.

So read on below for our discussion about how Kira first got started with equestrian sessions, what she considers to be absolutely necessary products, and why she thinks this is a great opportunity for hair and makeup artists to expand their businesses and stretch their creativity.

What is your favorite part of your job?Kira McCarty of Onsite Muse Florida sitting on her truck


I really love hearing people’s stories – Connecting with my client’s journey helps me personalize their look.

Watching someone light up after their reveal is incredibly rewarding.

Everyone needs a personal cheerleader, and if I can be the one who reminds them that they are a “hot tamale,” all the better!


How did you become a makeup artist?


My journey goes back to elementary school! You know when your 3rd-grade teacher asks what everyone wants to be when they grow up? 90% of the class wants to be President or an Astronaut. Well, I wanted to do hair and makeup!

I met the famous hairdresser Paul Mitchell on a 4th-grade field trip to the state capital. He was waiting to cut the Governor’s hair. I thought he was the coolest grown-up I had ever met. I can still remember what he was wearing, I was star struck.

Luckily, my family was supportive of my endeavor and I was off and running before I turned 17.

I have had a marvelous, well-rounded career. I have worked in, and owned salons, taught for professional schools, and have continuously worked on and off set for anything /everything photographed and filmed.

Tell me more about Onsite Muse. 


Onsite Muse Logo

We offer on-location hair styling and airbrush makeup services.

It’s a golden ticket – Many of our artists do BOTH hair and makeup! We also have artists who specialize in one or the other. All artists are highly trained in the latest products and techniques.

Onsite Muse was started in 2011. At the time, I was working for a wonderful, small company that specialized in wedding hairstyling and airbrushed makeup. The owner was starting a new chapter and decided to sell to a large “mothership” salon, so a couple of us went rogue.

We decided to open our own company, maintaining a highly skilled and tidy team of professionals who specialize in photo-ready hair and makeup.

I started out with 2 of my favorite hair and makeup artists in Minneapolis, MN. We didn’t know if we would get a single client in our first year.


But, to our complete surprise, at year’s end, we were voted top 5 best wedding salons in Minnesota by CBS local and were voted best hair and makeup by the Knot magazine.

We now have 2 more teams, one in St Augustine, FL and the other in Hudson, WI. Part of our magic is that we go on-site, letting our customers sit back, relax, and not worry about parking spots or traffic.

We chose the name ” Muse ” because our work is inspired by the customer – Our muse. Bringing our guest’s inner beauty to the surface is our goal. We want them to feel as good as they look by the time our session is over.

Though we have teams in 3 states, we only maintain a brick-and-mortar in Minneapolis, MN. With that said, even our Minnesota team is on-site 99% of the time! Clients LOVE the luxury of having our team go to them.


After years of working with wedding clients, what made you reach out to an equestrian photographer about providing makeup and/or hair for equestrian portrait sessions?


After YEARS of traveling across the country for clients/work, I had finally settled into a home base in St Augustine, Florida.

I was working with bridal parties every weekend but missed having more creative outlets, so I joined a few photography groups on social media hoping to partner with some fresh talent.

There were a lot of creative people, but everyone’s work had a similar coastal/new to photography vibe.

Then, I saw a photo of a cowgirl that stopped me in my tracks. Everything about the photo screamed. It was professional, the model choice and wardrobe was artistic, and the lighting was gorgeous!

I immediately jumped to the website to see where the photographer was based and discovered it was my hometown! Woo-hoo!

I reached out to introduce myself and see if she wanted to elevate her client’s experience with onsite hair and makeup with her photo sessions. l also let her know that I grew up riding, and was very comfortable working around barns and horses.

I count it as one of the best chances I’ve taken – I love working with her!


When you go to a stable or barn, what items do you bring with you in order to make it work?


Our styling kits are packed with every hair texture and length in mind, and our makeup kits can accomplish any look on any skin color or texture.

We supply false lashes in a variety of styles, and our ride or die is Temptu’s cordless airbrush machine.

I pack a battery-powered light to mimic sunshine. Many of our artists bring a folding chair with them as well.

Our artists are usually meeting the client for the first time, and our goal is to achieve the desired look on everyone, straight out of our kit.



What are 3 or 4 of your all-time favorite products for use with equestrian sessions and why do you love them?


My ride or dies when working on equestrian shoots:

Temptu airbrush makeup and my cordless airbrush gun

Red and Yellow Cowboy Boots on a Green and Yellow Truck

Temptu has formulas for every desired look and skin texture – I use one for clients needing a matte finish, another for mature skin that needs hydration. it can be applied as light or full coverage as desired, and my cordless gun lets me do applications in the middle of a pasture.

Ben Nye Final Seal Setting Spray

This is a professional trade secret! This setting spray applied over the makeup helps keep the makeup fresh all day, even in humid weather.

Urban Decay Cosmetics Original Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Primers are a necessity for makeup longevity, and this one keeps eyeshadow and liner from creasing. and fading.

House of Lashes Eyelash Adhesive

It holds up longer and applies easier than any other brand.


How is makeup for an equestrian session the same or different from doing makeup and/or hair for a wedding or typical portrait session?


Bridal hair and makeup applications often follow dramatic trends, and I try to pull the bride’s wedding vision together. It encompasses the dress, location, cake, and the overall feeling or theme of the event.

Equestrian shoots rarely have a theatrical approach, they tend to be more about the natural relationship between the rider and the horse.

I concentrate more on the lighting and bringing out the client’s natural features and not straying from their personal style.

Design decisions are made based on which side the client will be engaging their horse, which way the mane lays, and if they will be mounted or just posing.

Equestrian shoots are almost always outside and weather plays a HUGE role in which hairstyle will hold up best and which prep/set products are used on my client’s skin for flawless, lasting makeup.


You have also had the opportunity to work on some equestrian photography workshops – what do you like most about those events?


I love the creativity that goes into workshops.

Between the collaborating photography hosts, the wardrobe, models, and our piece, workshops become a passion project more than a job.

The freedom to go bigger, better, and bolder than family photos is awesome.

It exposes the true artists in our field(s) – Not just the professional following the client’s lead. I always leave inspired and fulfilled.

How has doing equestrian sessions and workshops added to your business or your enjoyment of your business? 


I LOVE every aspect of equestrian shoots.

I love jumping out of my usual routine of working in fancy hotel rooms and backstage to a barn.

Equestrian shoots allow me to explore back roads and meet the sweetest families in a relaxed setting.

The relationships that come out of the shoots often grow. I am honored to have been invited back to do hair and makeup for prom, graduations, and weddings for families I have met on equine shoots.


Where can people find you?


We are pretty active on social media. I am based at Onsite Muse Florida. If you are in the midwest, you can find us here. You can also find us on Facebook.


Attention Chattanooga Tennessee Hair and Makeup Artists

Are you are a Hair and Makeup Artist based in the Chattanooga Tennessee area?

Are you looking to expand your business and stretch your creativity?

Then I am looking for you. My search for the perfect Hair and Makeup Artist to add to the Ride the Sky brand has been going on for almost two years now. And, while I have worked with some nice HMUAs, I haven’t found the perfect fit yet.

If that describes you, reach out to me here. I’d love to talk to you!

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